Piffka's Penuche Frosting Recipe
Penuche is brown-sugar fudge, Clary. My oldest recipe (which calls it Panocha) says to put 3 cups brown sugar & 1 cup milk in a saucepan and cook to 238F (soft-ball stage). Then remove it from the fire & add 2 Tablespoons butter & 1 teaspoon vanilla, allowing it to cool without stirring. At that point you beat it until it is creamy & add broken (always by hand) nutmeats... hickory nuts, walnuts or pecans. Pour it into a pan, cut into squares. Then it is candy.
My newer vintage cookbook (1964) calls for similar ingredients but offers up that you can use 2 cups brown and 1 cup white sugar. Also considered candy.
When we make Penuche, it is for frosting a cake. We mix 2 cups brown sugar, scant 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 cup evaporated milk and 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan and boil the heck out of it for 5-6 minutes; then cool it down and beat in spoonfuls of evaporated milk or cream in turns with spoonfuls of powdered sugar. The exact amounts vary but are about 1/4 cup milk and 2 cups powdered sugar. When you frost the cake (the spicier, the better -- I usually add extra cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom to the mix, but not ginger), the penuche wiill harden in what appears to be unattractive drifts. These can be turned into almost a fondant by (using v. clean hands) carefully warming and rubbing the penuche and pressing it into the cake with your bare hands. The frosting will become smooth & shiny. The final step is to push whole walnuts into the frosting in some sort of all-over pattern. Delish... in smallish quanities, especially with vanilla ice cream and some neat whiskey (in a glass on the side). I'm not sure you'll find that recipe anywhere else.